Cheating on the USCG Unlimited Masters Exam

There’s always been a certain amount of cheating on the third mate and 3 a/e exam primarily because the uscg allows the schools to administer the exams on campus (rather than at the REC) with very little uscg uniformed oversight.

But I recently heard from a friend who is an operational manager at a shipping company who claims that, while the majority of new chief mates and masters (and 1 a/e and chiefs) are solid he is getting a small number of who are great at bullshiting their way through interviews but ultimately “have a low IQ”.

This led him to think that these individuals must have cheated on the exam. So he interviewed a bunch of junior officers and found out a few of these individuals have bragged about how easy it is to cheat your way to master unlimited.

He is still not sure how they are doing it but is convinced that “if the uscg doesn’t lock this exam down then people are going to get killed”.

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I mean, you could argue that cheating has been going on for years on all of these tests. Pretty much anybody with a “low IQ” can sit down and memorize enough answers to pass any of these tests.


Outright creepy.

I’m sure if you are testing out of an REC, anything can happen, best to question AMO and MMP.

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You can now test at AMO and MMP?? :flushed::grimacing:

How can you cheat at a REC?


Cheating is a pretty big industry these days and students do it successfully at Ivy League universities with much more advanced anti-cheating methods than RECs have at their disposal.

Why anyone thinks a USCG license is anything more than a regulatory formality is beyond me. You can certainly cheat your way to Unlim. Master/Chief, but you’re going to have to work somewhere along the way and that should be where people likely to kill someone are separated.

I think fraudulent sea time letters written by these companies and organized license fraud rings are a bigger issue than individuals cheating on the actual test.


OK, how does anyone cheat at a REC exam? RECs are not Ivy league universities.

The same way they do at Ivy League universities, only easier.

In 35 different modules at 3 different RECs I’ve only had one examiner that made any sort of effort to ensure there was no cheating and he has almost certainly retired. It would be child’s play to come up with numerous ways to cheat. It would also be more or equivalent work to just passing the damn exam unless you were planning on making money off cheating.

So why do people cheat then? Beats me. People used to memorize the celestial answers despite that taking more time than just learning how to do the damn work. I guess some people just get used to the idea that if they don’t cheat, they will fail.


Yeah how do you cheat? I have not tested at the rec. They do have cameras I would think. I can only think of this if you call it a cheat. 3rd mate. Pass 4 fail 2 then study really hard on 1 fail the other. Then test on the last test by iself. So you could do 4 then one then one because of the amount of trys you get. More like taking advantage of the system

I mean are people wrighting shit it on their arm or something?


Interesting. How did that one examiner make an effort the stop cheating? If it is child’s play to come up with numerous ways to cheat at a REC please share.
I sat for many an exam over many years. I used to get searched for a calculator that was beyond basic before I tested as having one was considered cheating. I see no way cheating can happen in a REC, unless things have changed greatly.


He reviewed my scratch paper thoroughly, and if there was a question he thought should have had some work shown on the scratch paper he questioned me on how I had arrived at my answer.

As far as methods, review any of the number of articles about university cheating rings. I’m not sure what you think is different in an REC. Electronics have come a long way.


Of course it has been awhile but I had to surrender all electronics before taking an exam at a REC.

That hasn’t changed of course, but concealing them has become much easier.

Mock TI calculators that are programmable but don’t appear so until a code is entered are fairly cheap.

Back in primary school, we had this truly horrendous German teacher, and I got it into my head that testing us in common conjugations was some kind of breach of human rights. As a solution, me and a friend wrote up a whole bunch of cheat sheets and pasted them on every imaginable surface in the classroom, so that nobody needed to suffer the denegration of actually learning something. The unexpected side effect was that through writing down the answers over and over, both of us irreversibly burned them into our memories. Oh well.

Sounds like a bad idea. It might be easy, but we don’t need to make it easier by establishing a repository of methods. And yeah, I can think of a few ways.


I done most of my exams in Engineering using a slide rule as calculators were either not around or not allowed to be used. I done my final exams using a scientific calculator.
Regarding cheating it has always been around and hard but not impossible. In England and New Zealand where I studied for my certificates the exam papers were usually set with nine questions of which you had to attempt six only. The questions were in four parts so it took about 25 minutes to answer. The exam time was three hours for each paper. The answers had to be worked out step by step and there were no multi-choice type questions. It was very useful to have a good memory in order to remember the many formulae that was needed to answer the questions. So writing formulae on your arms or on slips of paper could be called cheating. In later years relative formula books were supplied in the exams. I have heard of people being paid to take exams for someone else. How this worked or went undetected I have no idea. The exams were conducted by the Board Of Trade Examiners and they were ever present during the exam. Nowadays the College sets the papers and conducts the exams. I have heard that close to the exam date the Tutors often give their class a “Heads-up” on the content of the exam papers. This can be done in a subtle way so as not to be too obvious but attentive students will pick up on this. You could say it benefits the College the more students pass exams. So this is a form of cheating. I have always felt it unfair and a nonsensical system where if a student pass some papers and fail one have to sit several again because he failed one paper. Examples were Electrotechnology and Naval Architecture. Fail one, you had to sit both again.

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I don’t know if that’s a legitimate way to enforce anything these days. When I tested for my 3/M at school (14 years ago), I finished the chart plot in about 5 minutes. Did I cheat? No, I had simply done that chart plot the night before and remembered all the answers. No cheating, but also no scrap paper to turn in. The guy wasn’t surprised, and I wasn’t the only one out of there pretty quickly.

If you know the answers to the test by studying the questions, you can take a 70 question test in about 15 minutes.

I’m sure there are ways with the calculators available today (even the ‘basic’ ones that are allowed) to store information and formulas and such. But to me it’s just not worth it - they catch you, they revoke your license. Just put in some more work.

In my time if this system had existed and I didn’t feel I was up to passing six papers at first go then I would certainly consider the tactics you mentioned. I would feel okay it took me three attempts to pass, so what. My certificate is just as good as the one the guy that passed six in first go has.